Using a picture pointing task, this study examines toddlers' processing of phonological alternations that trigger sound changes in connected speech. Three experiments investigate whether 2;5- to 3-year-old children take into account assimilations--processes by which phonological features of one sound spread to adjacent sounds--for the purpose of word recognition (e.g., in English, ten pounds can be produced as te[mp]ounds). English toddlers (n = 18) show sensitivity to native place assimilations during lexical access in Experiment 1. Likewise, French toddlers (n = 27) compensate for French voicing assimilations in Experiment 2. However, French toddlers (n = 27) do not take into account a hypothetical non-native place assimilation rule in Experiment 3, suggesting that compensation for assimilation is already language specific.
Skoruppa, K., Mani, N., & Peperkamp, S. (2013). Toddlers’ Processing of Phonological Alternations: Early Compensation for Assimilation in English and French. Child Development, 84(1), 313–330. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01845.x